09/20/2012 1:37PM

Delaware Park: Lucky Chappy will be helped by soft ground in Kent

Tom Keyser
Despite running well, Lucky Chappy is winless in six starts in the U.S.

Just a tad more than 2 1/2 lengths separate Lucky Chappy from becoming a three-time graded stakes winner this season. But since he came up shy in one photo finish and was narrowly beaten in his two most recent starts, the Irish-bred Lucky Chappy will still be seeking his first North American win when he makes his seventh start in the U.S. in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park.

Trainer Graham Motion said he is hopeful the heavy rains that hit the mid-Atlantic region earlier in the week could work to Lucky Chappy’s advantage by softening the turf course and offset the fact that the 1 1/8-mile Kent is shorter than his colt prefers.

“I think a mile and a quarter is what he needs,” Motion said. “A mile and a quarter or maybe even a little further, but these opportunities to run against 3-year-olds are becoming fewer and fewer. The one thing I like about this weekend is that he might get some ground that is less than firm, which I think would help his style.”

Although winless in five starts this season, Lucky Chappy has been a bit unlucky. He missed by a nose on Tapeta in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in Feburary. After a lackluster performance overseas in the Group 2 UAE Derby, Lucky Chappy returned from nearly four months on the sidelines to finish second, beaten a length, in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby. Most recently, he cut an 18-length deficit to 1 1/2 lengths while flying home his final three furlongs in around 33 seconds as the third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

“I think he ran a very good race,” Motion said. “He just ran out of room to get there.”

Among the 10 opponents Lucky Chappy will face Saturday is Corinthian’s Jewel, who jumped from the maiden ranks to win his stakes debut in the nine-furlong Restoration at Monmouth a month ago.

“He is relatively lightly raced, but he has been improving,” said trainer George Weaver of Corinthian’s Jewel, who is 2 for 4 lifetime, including just one start at 2. “He has been improving this whole season and we are very happy with him. We are just hoping he takes another step forward this Saturday.”

The field also includes Cozzetti, winner of the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington two starts ago; Excaper, the runner-up in this summer’s Toronto Cup at Woodbine and last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; and King Kreesa, a winner of two minor turf stakes in New York who was beaten just a neck by Lucky Chappy in the Saranac.